I gathered the family last night and we drove to Fell’s Point in Baltimore. The excursion was not for leisure or recreation, but rather to join others in remembering our Ancestors who faced the cruelty of the Middle Passage and those who were brought to and through Baltimore in chains by way of the ports at Fell’s Point. The commemoration was organized by the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project. Baltimore was chosen as the first port to commemorate the Transatlantic Middle Passage.
Though we left in good time to make it to the ceremony on time, parking was extremely limited. We drove around the area for nearly 45 minutes trying to find a spot! However, in our driving, we did see and hear the congregation of American Africans and others who had gathered for this divine purpose.
We ended up not finding a spot to park so we drove out of the immediate area and found another spot along the water. A private honoring would have to do. We walked as a family along the water – my children much too young to comprehend the night. For them it was just a trip to the water to see the big boats. That’s alright. In due time, we will teach them more fully about their origins and share with them how we are directly linked with the world’s most Ancient People and its first high culture and human civilization. It’s enough for now that they can point to a picture of our Mother Land and say, “Africa!”
As the family rested on nearby benches, I walked to the water’s edge staring off into the distance straining my ears to hear the voices of my Ancestors – focusing my mind to imagine their faces and opening myself to embrace their spirits. I give thanks for my Ancestors and re-commit myself to honoring them by re-membering them, cherishing them as an active presence in my life today, studying, and applying their wisdom to my journey.
I left thankful for the sponsoring organizations’s efforts and woke up the next morning to study more about Baltimore’s African Slave Trade history. It’s amazing the amount of history that is all around this city that is not formally or regularly recognized. There are many pages of forgotten or conveniently ignored history in Baltimore. When people think Fell’s Point, they usually think restaurants, popular drinking spots, expensive housing, etc. We’re not led to equate Fell’s Point with the African Slave Trade. I suspect that’s not coincidental. We’re not encouraged to wonder about how places got their names and who they are named after. The minority report of history is quickly brushed under the rug and replaced for those versions that most obscure reality and promote the perspective of the powerful. We’re not encouraged to wonder how many schools in Baltimore are named after slave owners…how many places in Baltimore were sites of slave rebellions…how the historic big-monied people and foundations got their wealth. This is not considered polite conversation. However, these are some of the important questions that need to be asked and discussed.
What the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Makers Project is doing is admirable and their mission is pure. They seek to help African people heal, learn, and remember, so we can honor our Ancestors by living in the full radiance of their Presence.
Here’s a link to a recent interview about the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Makers Project. Keep an eye out for their arrival in a city near you.